Pecan crop improving despite drought

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OKLAHOMA - 28 million pounds. That's how many pecans producers expect from Oklahoma this year. It's a good number considering the drought, but owner of Oklahoma Pecan company Jerry Rutledge said the nuts are smaller than average. This fact coupled with low production in the last few years puts financial cracks in his business.

"If it's small pecans or no pecans, it's hard to stay in business," said Rutledge.

And last year it was no pecans because Oklahoma only produced 3 to 4 million pounds. Compared to an average crop of 20 million pounds, last year creeped and this year leaped.

Leland McDaniel is the extension educator for the OSU Cooperative Extension, and he said the reasons for the good pecan crop aren't entirely clear. But last year's weather might have made the difference.

"We had a good fall and winter last year, we had some rainfall so maybe that helped make this year's crop even though we had a dry summer," said McDaniel.

But at the same time this year's dry weather discouraged disease.

"Without the rainfall, without the humidity, we didn't have the foliar diseases that we normally have, so that helped our crop this year," McDaniel said.

Despite the good crop, Rutledge isn't sure he will recover from the losses he took last year. So however the rain falls--or doesn't fall at all--those in the pecan business just have to weather the nutty weather.

"My business is just like farming, I mean everything's out of control," Rutledge said. "If the pecan crop is a big crop, I make money, little crop I don't."

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